Enterprise Social Technology Series
As social media sites continue their meteoric rise as the fastest growing online, the push for companies to adopt social technology increases as well. TDK’s Enterprise Social Technology Series outlines a path for incorporating social technology into enterprise business models. The series will consist of the following articles:
- Researching Social Technology
- Setting Goals and Objectives
- Strategic and Tactical Planning
- Key Performance Indicators
- Listening and Participation
- Content Creation and Buzz Generation
- Brand Building and Reputation Management
- Supporting the Marketing and Sales Pipelines
- Measuring ROI and Reacting to Feedback
Social Media Listening and Participation
After completing extensive research and careful planning you may feel ready to jump into all aspects of the social media sphere, however we recommend a phased approach consisting of 7 phases:
- Phase 1: Research
- Phase 2: Planning
- Phase 3: Listening
- Phase 4: Participation
- Phase 5: Content Creation
- Phase 6: Buzz Generation
- Phase 7: Feedback and Control
At this point we’ve already completed 2 of those phases, the research and planning phases. We are now ready for the campaign kickoff phase: Listening. We start by listening and learning about the communities we wish to engage with, in order to ensure that our participation in those communities has the desired effect.
The old adage “listen and learn before you act” is the guiding principle here. Learn the norms and etiquette of the communities you’ve decided to participate in… before you participate! Observe how others are communicating and how others are reacting to that communication. Find the community thought leaders who are most relevant to your target audience and listen to them. Listen to what is being said about your brand and gauge brand sentiment in the community. Find and listen to your target audience.
The central aim of the listening phase is to prepare us for the participation phase. Many social technology users simply promote their own content in social media. This is generally not a best practice and is a key reason why the content creation phase comes after the participation phase. We should engage with the community and develop good engagement habits before we start promoting content in the community. Some best practices for engagement include:
- Personalize your brand, but practice restraint, not everything is worth sharing.
- Align your social brand personality with your organizational vision, goals and objectives.
- Prioritize engagement. You can’t always engage with everyone, prioritize engagement with influencers and thought leaders.
- Seek out influential conversations and add value to them.
- Stay positive. Focus on building your own authority and reputation, not damaging that of your competition.
- Don’t automatically ignore negative brand mentions. If negative conversation is happening around your brand, it’s happening whether or not you get involved. Assess the situation to determine if engagement would help. Does the conversation contain influencers? Does the tone of the conversation indicate that sentiment is salvageable?
- Build relationships, not just connections. Maximizing the leverage provided by engaging with thought leaders and your target audience requires a mutual respect and appreciation.
- Don’t focus solely on sharing your expertise, seek out the expertise of other thought leaders.
- Use social technology tools to improve listening and engagement efficiency.
The final best practice mentioned is quite important. To manage listening and engagement across several disparate social media communities can be quite a challenge. Given limited resources, the more efficient this process becomes, the more we can expand media reach and energize engagement. There are many social technology tools which can help in this effort. However, the social software market is so saturated that even selecting a few to review is a challenge in itself. Social Media Club of St. Louis (@SMCSTL) President Brad Hogenmiller (@JavaSTL) provided some insight into how to select the right social technology tools for your campaign via a conversation on twitter:
|TDK Technologies (@TDKTechnologies): What #socialtech tools help you listen & engage?|
|Brad Hogenmiller (@JavaSTL): @TDKTechnologies two different questions, some tools are engagement and workflow platforms some are listening and reporting platforms … and my answer would be budget and goal dependant... hate to deflect the question but I'd need more info to answer that.|
|TDK Technologies (@TDKTechnologies): @JavaSTL Agreed, listening and participation are distinct and there are tools specialized for each. … There are also some tools like @radian6 which are listening and engagement platforms. … You aren't deflecting, you're refining. Can't select the right #socialtech tools without a budget and plan!|
|Brad Hogenmiller (@JavaSTL): @TDKTechnologies [Radian6 is] the gold standard, but it depends on goals/budget. This is a good primer if you want a list: http://ow.ly/4rcMq|
|TDK Technologies (@TDKTechnologies): @JavaSTL Thanks! The social software market is so saturated. It's difficult to select a few to review.|
|Brad Hogenmiller (@JavaSTL): @TDKTechnologies Agreed. I think that's why Salesforce bought Rad6... easier to acquire than build from scratch given the competition.|
Social Media Marketer Sam Cotton (@Social_MediaStL) also weighed in on the topic:
|Sam Cotton (@Social_MediaStL): @TDKTechnologies Connect & Engage: (LinkedIn, FB, Twitter) Listen:(SocialMention, IceRocket, Radian6) … @socialmention [ plays] a key part in many business’s #SMM #brandmanagement|
Most of the social media marketing community would agree that Radian6 is the best comprehensive social technology tool for managing listening and engagement. You can learn more about Radian6 at their web site: www.radian6.com. However, with plans starting at $600 per month, Radian6 may be too much for your budget. Thankfully Brad has provided us with an excellent resource which covers a wide array of social technology tools conveniently organized into 16 classes of social technology software suites.
Covering all those would be well beyond the scope of this document. Instead, we’ve listed a few free tools below which can get even the lowest budget campaigns off the ground and running strong:
- Google RSS Reader: Organize all the RSS feeds you want to track in one place.
- Google Alerts: Email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of query or topic.
- Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, et al searches: All the major social networks have search capabilities which help you listen and engage.
- Kurrently: Real time search engine for Facebook and Twitter.
- IceRocket: Real time search of blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Web and more.
- SocialMention: Real-time social media search and analysis. Provides brand sentiment analysis.
- TweetDeck: Twitter Management Dashboard.
- Hootsuite: Social Media Dashboard for managing multiple social media networks.
Once you get the listening and participation phases undeway you will have the core of your social technology machine in motion, at which point you'll be ready to start creating content and generating buzz!